Auckland’s Pasifika Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, with special programming to mark this significant milestone. The festival, the largest Pacific Island cultural festival in the world, takes place at Western Springs Park on Saturday, 25 and Sunday, 26 March.
Saturday’s festivities will be capped off with an anniversary showcase, with contemporary music and dance and cultural performances, while Sunday’s opening church service will lead into a choral celebration to mark the occasion.
Pasifika Festival began as a joint Auckland City Council and community initiative in 1992, to celebrate and share Pacific Island cultures and bring Pasifika communities together.
Building on an initial idea of a ‘South Pacific Week’, former New Zealand Herald Pacific affairs reporter Roy Vaughan worked with community leaders like Cook Islands Consul General Bill Te Ariki and Reverend Leuatea Sio to bring together the different Pacific communities, churches, leaders and the then-Auckland City Council.
Over the years, the festival has featured fashion shows, theatre performances, a pop opera and sports competitions. Myriad Pacific Island leaders, performers, community groups and a host of Auckland’s event organisers, both Pasifika and Palagi, have contributed to Pasifika during its 25 years.
In 1998, the village concept was introduced to show the diversity within the Pacific and ensure the cultural integrity and community connections of the festival. Pasifika now hosts 11 distinctly different villages, each with a performance stage and market, to show the diversity of the Pacific cultures represented.
Co-founder Roy Vaughan says Pasifika was an instant success, bringing Pacific Island Auckland communities together to celebrate and showcase the different cultures of the Pacific. It won community events award on its first outing, and attracted luminaries like Sir Edmund Hillary, keen to see what Auckland’s new festival was all about.
“Helping start Pasifika is one of the best things I have done in my life. It brings forth some of the best things in Pacific culture, the music and dance, the food and communities,” says Mr. Vaughan.
Both Roy Vaughan and Bill Te Ariki will speak briefly at the 25th anniversary showcase, which will take place on the Samoan Village stage from 4-6pm.
The entertainment line-up for the showcase includes all-female contemporary dance company Ura Tabu, the Kamehameha Schools Hawaiian Ensemble dance Group, Adeaze (photo attached from their Pasifika performance in 2004), and social media singing sensation Resonate.
Six leading cultural groups from Auckland high schools will perform: Auckland Girls’ Grammar (Aotearoa); De la Salle College (Niue); Sacred Heart College (Samoa); Southern Cross Campus (Cook Island); Kelston Girls’ College (Fiji); and St Peter’s College (Tonga).
On Sunday, there will be a choral celebration at the Fijian Village, from 11am – 1pm. There will be performances from the Auckland Gospel Choir, Stand Up Stand Out performing arts competition participants from St Paul’s College, Aorere College, Southern Cross Campus and Avondale College, and Resonate.
Proudly supported by AMI Insurance, Pasifika Festival is one of Auckland’s four major cultural festivals, along with the Auckland Lantern Festival, T?maki Herenga Waka Festival and Auckland Diwali Festival. It is being delivered for the third year by Orange Productions on behalf of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development’s (ATEED) and Auckland Council.
Other sponsors include Mai FM, Air New Zealand, Edgewater Resort and Spa, Pak n Save, Charlie’s Drinks, Western Union, Paesfika Proud and more.
To find out more about Pasifika Festival 2017, go to:
- Facebook – What’s on in Auckland
- Instagram – @PasifikaFestival_AKL
What: Pasifika Festival 25th anniversary celebrations
When: 4-6pm, Saturday 25 March, 25th anniversary entertainment showcase, Samoa Village stage
When: 11am – 1pm, Sunday 26 March, 25th anniversary choral celebration, Fijian Village
Where: Western Springs Park
Free, all welcome.